Bezos's philanthropic push, devised with wife MacKenzie, will include building and operating a network of "Montessori-like" preschools to help prevent low-income family children from falling behind in their education.
One part of the effort, dubbed the "Day 1 Families Fund," will give money to non-profit organizations that are "doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families", Bezos's message stated. The fund's vision statement comes from non-profit Mary's Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside. "We will announce a decision before the end of this year", Bezos said. "The secret sauce of Amazon - the number one thing that has made us successful has by far is obsessive, compulsive focus on the customer". "September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month", he wrote saying Amazon employees around the globe will be wearing pjs to work to show their solidarity and support to children suffering from the deadly disease.
Mr Bezos asked on Twitter last year for suggestions on how he might use his personal fortune, which this year has soared due to Amazon's surging share price and United States tax cuts. Jeff Bezos's net worth is about $150 billion, so this campaign represents a little over 1% of that.
More than a year ago, Bezos posted to Twitter a request for suggestions on philanthropic initiatives created to make a difference in the short term.
Until now, Bezos, 54, had only taken small steps into philanthropy.
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"People are interested in trying to help the world in so many different ways", he said.
Bezos hasn't said how much he'll be contributing to the fund in coming years. But in the world of ultra-rich tech philanthropists, it's roughly on par with other do-gooding efforts.
"We're hoping that local, state and federal governments see this as a call to invest more in preschool and childcare", he said. Zuckerberg's shares in the social network are now valued at about US$61 billion.
Bezos has yet to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative launched by Gates encouraging billionaires to commit to giving away most of their wealth.
With a personal fortune of nearly $164 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the Amazon chief executive officer had been largely invisible in the world of philanthropy. Forbes magazine placed him at the top of its list of billionaires for the first time this year, surpassing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post. A 10-figure gift to homelessness and early education helps raise awareness for these causes and can inspire other foundations and donors to act. Some activists and politicians have partly blamed the city's problems on Amazon.